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Slaughter at Gallipoli blamed on bad planning
The body of a dead Turkish soldier during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 Photo: © IWM

Slaughter at Gallipoli blamed on bad planning

Kitchener, Asquith and War Council accused of negligence

London, 9 March 1917 - The interim report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Dardanelles operations has been released.

The 60-page report offers a brutal analysis of the failings at many levels that led to the disastrous campaign at Gallipoli. Indeed, it is a merciless indictment of the entire debacle which is depicted as a ghastly failure.

In general the report details the genesis of the Gallipoli campaign and the scheme for acquiring the Dardanelles for defense, hatched by Winston Churchill. It concludes that Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and the War Council were negligent in not seeking the advice of the naval officers, but also that those officers failed in their duty to advise regardless of being asked.

The interim report also found that the War Council was unjustified in approving the plans.

The report further confirms public opinion on the incompetence that led to the disastrous loss of life and resources at Gallipoli.

Stephen Gwynn is an Irish politician who served on the Dardanelles Commission. This is an excerpt from his notes based on interviews conducted on behalf of the commission. It details one soldier's experiences on Chocolate Hill in 1915. Click on image to view full document. (Image: National Library of Ireland, Ms 33701)

‘Gambling with blood’
Underlying the whole report is the sense that the War Council was at sixes and sevens throughout. One commentator noted that the entire cadre of leadership was engaged in a farce ‘beside which the Mad Hatter’s tea party would have been a model of lucid thinking’.

The Freeman’s Journal in an editorial noted:

‘Had these gentlemen who sat so decorously in London risked their own lives or their own property, rather than sacrifice etiquette or violate convention, they would have been sufficiently pitiable creatures. But they were gambling with blood – much of it, unfortunately, Irish blood – that cost them nothing, and the mandarinism of the War Office and the Admiralty has never before been hallowed by so rich an oblation.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.